The Art of Unlearning: How Do We Know What’s False?

unlearning

In his book Walden, Henry David Thoreau writes, “Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.” How simple it is, for example, to laugh at the old, outdated thinking of our parents while being swept up in our own generation’s new, “enlightened” ideas. In light of the never-ending stream of persuasive PSAs and subtle advertisements we see in the media, it’s not hard to imagine our culture is more progressive and forward-thinking than ever.

Yet, as the old adage goes, “there is nothing new under the sun.” The circumstances of the world shift and change, but truth alone remains. With this in mind, how often do we stop and examine how enlightened our culture, in fact, is? Or question to what degree we have allowed ourselves to be conditioned to conform to its thinking?

With this in mind, how often do we stop and examine how enlightened our culture, in fact, is?

After all, there are several blatant lies the world tells us — such as what we’re told happiness looks like, or how to pursue “perfect” bodies. If we want to live according to truth rather than the passing trends of the times, then we need to unlearn much of the “wisdom” the world can offer.

How do we do this? We can begin with a bit of tried and true introspection. Taking time to contemplate our beliefs in quiet allows us space to connect to our most authentic selves and be reminded of natural truths.

We can also deepen our understanding of the world’s realities in the midst of our regular routines – beginning with our interactions. Perhaps there’s a coworker we often disagree with or a friend whose opinions differ from ours. If we listen to them with open minds, our beliefs will be challenged and we’ll be able to gain new, and perhaps truer, perspectives.

In essence, we must be willing to never place an idea past the realm of doubt. None of us have all the answers. The older we get, the more we learn about ourselves and the world around us. Let us hope that as we grow, our beliefs and behavior will conform more and more to truth than to trends, keeping in mind the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Let us unlearn our wisdom of the world…and learn that truth alone makes rich and great.”

Is there something you’ve been quick to adopt without questioning? What is something that you have thought about and stand by?

Image via Aysegül Karatekin

Amy is a writer and marketing professional based in Los Angeles. She is passionate about creating meaningful dialogue and empowering women through her writing, which has been featured on The Huffington Post, Grit & Virtue, and Milk & Honey Magazine, among other blogs and websites.

4 COMMENTS
  • Christa July 24, 2018

    Loved your post! I appreciate the message that Darling is constantly giving about being selfless, wise, and authentic! I agree wholeheartedly:)

  • Abby Cameron July 9, 2016

    Ultimately, our world is our perception. The truth lies within us all. In our essential selves, but we wear the blanket of our culture and keep ourselves hidden. My struggle is the fear of who I am when I strip away that culture. What is our truth and are we brave enough to wear it?
    Love the HDT quotes. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Amy Cummins July 9, 2016

      Wow – beautifully put, Abby! Thank you for sharing your perspective. Glad you enjoyed the article!

  • Some good food for thought here. Thank you for providing me with some midweek introspection 🙂

    http://www.thebusinessofblooming.com

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